Contribution of hurricane-induced sediment resuspension to coastal oxygen dynamics
Smith, Richard W.
Leung, L. Ruby
Moriarty, Julia M.
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Hurricanes passing over the ocean can mix the water column down to great depths and resuspend massive volumes of sediments on the continental shelves. Consequently, organic carbon and reduced inorganic compounds associated with these sediments can be resuspended from anaerobic portions of the seabed and re-exposed to dissolved oxygen (DO) in the water column. This process can drive DO consumption as sediments become oxidized. Previous studies have investigated the effect of hurricanes on DO in different coastal regions of the world, highlighting the alleviation of hypoxic conditions by extreme winds, which drive vertical mixing and re-aeration of the water column. However, the effect of hurricane-induced resuspended sediments on DO has been neglected. Here, using a diverse suite of datasets for the northern Gulf of Mexico, we find that in the few days after a hurricane passage, decomposition of resuspended shelf sediments consumes up to a fifth of the DO added to the bottom of the water column during vertical mixing. Despite uncertainty in this value, we highlight the potential significance of this mechanism for DO dynamics. Overall, sediment resuspension likely occurs over all continental shelves affected by tropical cyclones, potentially impacting global cycles of marine DO and carbon.
© The Author(s), 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Scientific Reports 8 (2018): 15740, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-33640-3.
Suggested CitationScientific Reports 8 (2018): 15740
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